Throwback Thursday: First Official American League Baseball Game, Chicago

Americas favorite pastime, Baseball, looks a lot different today than what it has started out with. Debates on baseballs origin places its history, ironically in England, as a game called Rounders. Although many would argue it was founded on American soil by civil war veteran Abner Doubleday. Baseballs earliest reference can be traced to a 1744 childrens publication, A LITTLE PRETTY POCKET BOOK, as a rhymed description of a “base-ball” with a triangle field rather than a diamond field. Its been discovered that the first recorded game was in Surrey, England with the Prince of Wales as a player.

Today baseball is a widely known sport that had reached the Olympic arena, and is most commonly celebrated and played in the United States. The earliest reference to Baseball in the United States was 1791 in Massachusetts, banning the game within 80 yards of a town meeting house. The first team to play under modern rules was believed to be the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club founded by Alexander Cartwright in 1845, a breakaway group from the Gotham Club of 1837.

In 1857 the Knickerbockers along with 15 other New York area clubs, formed the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), the first organization to establish a governance and championship of the sport. In one decade, membership would include over 400 clubs and in 1869 the NABBP permitted professional play. The first attempt at a “Major League” created the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP) simply known as the National Association (NA). The Chicago White Stockings and the Red Stockings Club were charter members of the NA, and Chicago had finished the 1871 season in 2nd place despite the Great Chicago Fire destroying their home field, dropping out until they returned following the recovery period in 1874. The NA disbanded in 1875 and the National League (NL) was formed by William Hulbert in 1876, who originally financed the White Stockings of NA (later becoming known as the Chicago Cubs).

The NL, which started player contracts between clubs, faced many opposing leagues that broke apart as quickly as they formed. Most successfully, the NL and the American Association (AA) played closely together to go as far as creating post season championships, the first attempt at World Series. Finally the Western League founded in 1893, which would later change its name to the American League (AL), moved to become a Major League club in 1901. The first official American League baseball game was played on April 24, 1901 at the Chicago Cricket Club, in which the White Stockings of the AL (taking their rivals former name), later becoming known as the Chicago White Sox, would defeat the Cleveland Blues. The MLB would later be formed in 2000 upon the merging of the National Association and the American Association.

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